Discussions with market and financial sources on fashion and retail trends last year raised some interesting ideas on what is percolating in the marketplace. The following are a few that were mentioned that could show some strong legs in 2013, with the impact of having everyone rethinking what 2014 could bring.
OVERSEAS FIRM TO KEEP AN EYE ON: Rakuten Inc., a Japanese Internet service firm founded in 1997, provides a B2B2C marketplace platform that is shop-centric, compared with competitors that are product focused. Three years ago, the firm decided to grow beyond its domestic borders and in 2010 acquired the Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based Buy.com for $250 million through Rakuten USA. Mark Kirschner, vice chief marketing officer, said, “Because Rakuten’s e-commerce operation is a business marketplace platform, we act as a facilitator and, unique among our competitors, allow the individual businesses to customize their own storefronts on our site.” Look for Vau.lt, now in beta testing, to launch early this year, the latest U.S. direct-to-consumer site under Rakuten’s umbrella. In addition, Derek Wall, Vau.lt’s chief executive officer, said Rakuten will launch a Rakuten user ID early next year that will allow each holder to access any Rakuten-operated site anywhere in the world. Rakuten in May also led a consortium that invested $100 million in Pinterest. EBay and Amazon will still be megaplayers, but Rakuten’s B2B2C platform could be where the action is this year. RELATED STORY: Stronger Growth Expected in Second Half >>
PERSON TO WATCH: Yehuda Shmidman joined Sequential Brands Group as its new chief executive officer in November. The former chief operating officer at Iconix Brand Group was involved in many mergers and acquisitions initiatives, and helped grow the small five-fashion brand firm when he joined in 2005 to a company with more than 25 brands generating more than $360 million in licensing revenues. Sequential last month acquired Heelys Inc. for $63.2 million, and Shmidman is on the prowl for more deals.
CONSUMER CREDIT AT RETAIL: Conns, a home goods and electronics retailer, offers a variety of proprietary credit options that make it easier for many subprime consumers to buy what they need. According to David Galper, managing director at KeyBanc Capital Markets who is also head of the retail and apparel investment banking group, said, “This credit expertise is a significant competitive advantage as it drives loyalty and profitability.” While some retailers such as Kmart reinstituted a related concept called the layaway plan, Conns allows working middle class consumers to actually take their purchases home while making low monthly payments on an installment plan.
BRAND MANAGEMENT WARS: In the last few years, Iconix Brand Group had the lock as leader in the brand management category. Sequential Brands Group and Authentic Brands Group are the latest entrants in the new category of acquirers with an eye on licensing. Last month, Sequential acquired the intellectual property assets of Heelys Inc., while Authentic bought the brands under the former HMX Group umbrella that includes Hart Schaffner Marx and Hickey Freeman. While all three are looking for new deals, the new entrants might have the advantage — as upstarts, they don’t need big deals to move the needle.
AMERICAN FASHION IN VOGUE: Is 2013 the year for the American designer in fashion? Financial and creative sources say yes, as the American aesthetic features wearable and versatile apparel that can go from day to night at affordable price points. Think Rag & Bone and Sophie Theallet. And while overseas aspirational consumers used to first hit the high-end European luxury brands, accessibility to information online via e-commerce sites has broadened their horizons at a far faster pace than ever before. In particular, Asian consumers who want to express their own unique identities no longer want to wear what their next-door neighbors are wearing. So it may be the American designers who win market share in 2013.
In his new book “Hollywood Royale,” Andy Warhol’s Protégé Matthew Rolston celebrates the Eighties revival of Hollywood glamour. Featuring more than 100 portraits taken by Rolston from 1977 to 1993, the book contains photos of icons like Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, and @drewbarrymore, pictured here in 1991. “Hollywood Royale,” out today, will be accompanied by an exhibition opening at Los Angeles’ Fahey/Klein Gallery on March 1. #wwdeye
"Nowadays when life is not so happy with everything going on in the world, I think people come to me for a little bit of whimsy and color and fun." - Designer Rebecca De Ravenel on her cult-favorite jewelry line. (📸 : @vsteves) #wwd40
“Everyone is talking about how the retail industry is struggling, but I think it’s an incredible time because brands who are doing something different and innovative are setting themselves up for the future,” said @adamgoldston, who founded the luxury athletic brand @apl with his brother @ryangoldsten. The Goldston’s are part of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables. See the rest of the list on WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
@eyeswoon blogger Athena Calderone debuted her first-ever cookbook, “Cook Beautiful,” which is heavily centered on the presentation and visual expression of food. Pictured here are her miso glazed carrots from the book. Get the recipe on WWD.com. (📷: @johnny_miller_) #wwdeye
“It’s passion that helps get anybody to a certain point and it’s what’s propelled me,” said Kith founder @ronniefieg, one of WWD’s 40 under 40: a group of industry notables who are changing the face of retail, fashion and beauty. Fieg, who opened a Manhattan flagship on October 7, began his career at age 13 as a stock boy and salesman for footwear chain David Z. “I think staying true to [my] beliefs, hard work and passion have gotten me to where [Kith] is today.” See the rest of the 40 at WWD.com. (📷: @vsteves) #wwd40
25-year-old @samweaving is about to break out this fall, starring in Netflix’s horror film “The Babysitter,” fittingly out today on Friday the 13th. That’s not the only place you’ll be seeing her, though — Weaving’s got a role Showtime’s “SMILF” and another alongside Frances McDormand and Woody Harrelson in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Though she’s got a full plate at the moment, there’s one role she’s got her eye on: Marilyn Monroe. “I’m a little too young at the moment, but it’s on my bucket list,” the actress told WWD (📷: @dandoperalski) #wwdeye
BFF's Poppy Jamie and Suki Waterhouse celebrated the launch of their bag line Pop x Suki at Nordstrom last night. "The line is really about our friendship, and how we are so different but complement each other," said Waterhouse. 👯 (📷: Katie Jones) #wwdeye
After designing the new @louisvuitton and @bulgariofficial flagships and a @chanelofficial boutique opening in Japan, @petermarinoarchitect has another project on his plate: The Lobster Club. Located in the Seagram Building, it’s the famed architect’s first restaurant project in New York, serving up modern Japanese brasserie-style cuisine. Bronze hues, bespoke material detailing, blush and chartreuse tones and a heavy emphasis on Picasso can be seen throughout. Mark your calendars for Nov. 1 for the much-anticipated opening. (📷: @clint_spaulding) #wwdeye
Did you know: @carlychaikin of "Mr. Robot" has been painting for about a decade? The actress, who plays Darlene on the show, is a self-taught artist who lists Salvador Dalí and Chuck Close as some of her idols. Chaikin told WWD that painting is a form of meditation for her — A much-needed one given the intensity of "Mr. Robot." See a piece Chaikin is working on at WWD.com (📷: @jilliansollazzo) #wwdeye